St. Mary's Celebrates the 20th Annual World Carnival

This past Saturday, the twentieth annual World Carnival was held in the Admissions Field where vendors, games, clubs and performances were held all day long. The weather was extremely compliant with the outdoor festivities and a cool breeze was felt throughout the day. The carnival began with a traditional parade starting at the Campus Center led by the St. Mary’s Drum Corps, in which student performers and any student who wanted to join in marched noisily around campus to end at Admissions Field. As soon as they reached the field, it was time for the ribbon cutting and annual reading of the Sneetches, a Dr. Seuss story about tolerance, by alumna and former Coordinator of Orientation and Service Sola Ogundele.

There were several dance performances underneath the large white tent in the back of the field where a stage had been set up with several rows of chairs for the audience. Operation Yatose (Japanese dancing) was followed by an all-female  acapella group the Sextets, and the Daughters of Veda Middle Eastern Dancing Troupe. The belly dancers were local performers and showcased traditional styles of belly dancing from Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. The last dancing act was performed by the Teelin Irish Dance Company, which includes dancers from all age ranges out of the Teelin Dance Company in Columbia, Maryland.

Associate Professor of History Charles Musgrove commented,  “This is my first World Carnival. I came out with my daughter Emily and I enjoyed it.”

While many attended the dance performances, there were a fair amount of clubs that had set up various games and prizes as well. Among the numerous tables, the fencing club was having mini bouts to attract and entertain observers. Another popular activity was the Black Student Union’s t–shirt spray-painting in the shape of countries’ flags. Lots of fun free prizes were given away like the Chinese fans and global themed stickers from the Office of International Education. While there were various free things, clubs also sold paraphernalia related to their particular interest. International Club sold necklaces, woven bracelets, and earrings from the organization Granada Street Kids, which supports homeless teenage boys in Nicaragua through the crafts they sell.

If you weren’t interested in the club tables, there were a lot of clothing, food and craft vendors to peruse. One of the food stalls sold funnel cake, gyros, fries and other fried goodness (coincidentally there was always a line) while the other offered all Thai food. There were adorable marionettes for sale, sand art, and another tee-shirt making area next to the vendors. A unique clothing vendor that sold dresses, bags and jewlery was set up in the corner of the field. First-year Amanda Sheeks’ favorite thing of the day was “The funnel cakes because they were delicious and I really liked them. Also I liked it when Greg from the Fencing Club dressed up as a pirate.”

While students were enjoying the welcome break from their academic routine, faculty also took the time to enjoy the beautiful weather and brought their families to the carnival. One such example would be Associate Professor of German Anne Leblans who said, “It is a good event to bring your family to and I have been to many other world carnivals with my daughter.” There were many children, both big and small, lined up for the inflatable Twister platform and bouncy obstacle course throughout the day.

The main event happened around four o’clock in the afternoon, when the Holi festival (based on a Hindu festival from India) began with the participants changing into their white tee-shirts to throw colored flour at each other. It was quite a sight as over 100 students flocked around the bags of flour and released their contents to the air; the wind did the rest, as the colored powder coated everyone in a thick layer head to toe.

There was a break after Holi and the final event was the musical performance by Thick as Thieves, a popular rock band from Los Angeles that seems to transcend musical labels and received strong praise from the audience for the band’s original rap-rock songs, as well as their covers of Kanye West tunes. As sophomore Jewel Williams pointed out, “World Carnival was a great time for the campus to focus on non-academic things and just hang out. It was nice to see all the families out there.”

Board of Trustees Vote to Freeze Tuition

In the most recent issue of The Point News, Vice President for Business and Finance, Dr. Thomas J. Botzman stated that it was very likely that while the Board of Trustees may vote to increase tuition; students might actually end up seeing a tuition freeze. That freeze would come as a result of Senate Bill 828, a bill designed specifically for St. Mary’s College of Maryland, to keep tuition prices the same for in-state students for at least two years. As of Apirl 11, Board of Trustees voted to freeze in-state undergraduate tuition in response to the passing of Senate Bill 828, state legislation that passed unanimously by both Maryland’s House and Senate.

“It had to do with changing minds in Annapolis about the place of St. Mary’s College in the Governor’s general tuition reduction plans overall (as we have been excluded from that)  making the argument that the policy they had on helping lower tuition wasnt helping insitutions directly, it was just lower costs for students,” said President Joseph Urgo. “So in a sense, our students were being taxed twice. They were paying taxes for everyones tuition to go down and they were paying higher tuition on top of that. In the next two years, we’re going to be trying to catch up on ground that we lost.”

According to a press release made public on April 11, St. Mary’s College of Maryland President Dr. Joseph Urgo thanked both Governor Martin O’Malley; lead bill sponsors Senator Richard Madaleno and Delegate John Bohanan, for “their continued support of students and families at St. Mary’s College of Maryland”. The new state funding for tuition includes $800,000 for 2013-2014 and over $1.6 million for 2014-2015, with the following years funding to be determined depending on inflation and increases in needs.

In addition to the increased funding that helps facilitate a tuition freeze for up to two years, the newly passed legislation also helps St. Mary’s College develop and ripen its DeSousa-Brent Program. The DeSousa-Brent Scholars Program is a partnership that according to their website, helps “cultivate the academic and leadership potential of talented students from groups traditionally underrepresented at St. Mary’s.” With the newly agreed upon tuition freeze and subsequent state funding towards the DeSousa-Brent Program, the program is expanded and will now be a four year program, rather than the current one year one. Additionally, the increase in state funding will help to ensure that the DeSousa-Brent program serves more students. To do so however, the College must continue to show that the money is going to the proper places, and that the graduation rates continue to meet expectations.

Urgo expressed enthusiam regarding the extra funding for the DeSousa Brent Program.”It is exciting because it’s a model for other schools to follow,” said Urgo. “We’re not saying, ‘give us the extra funding and we’ll do the best we can’; we are saying ‘give us the extra funding and we’ll show you we can do it – if we can’t, take the money back , if we succeed, continue giving us funding and we will continue doing good things.'”

Resuming the discussion of tuition freeze, there is a portion of the new legislation that cannot be forgotten, or rather a portion of the bill that does not exist: the portion covering out-of-state students. While in-state students certainly will not see an increase in their tuition, out-of-state students unquestionably will. That four percent increase will raise out-of state tuition to $26,046.80. That amount is only $31.20 cheaper than an in-state students full price to come to St. Mary’s for the 2012-2013 year. That means that if you add up tuition, fees, and room and board for an in-state student for this year it is only $31.20 more expensive than an out-of-state student’s tuition. However, that will not stay that way for long. Accoridng to Botzman, food service as well as room and board fees will see an increase of two and three percent respectively. Despite the fact that every student regardless of their permanent residence will be paying more this coming year, it is important to see the immense benefits tuition freeze will bring for St. Mary’s students, and to school-wide programs from the increased revenue a hold on tuition will bring.

According to Urgo, the tuition freeze will be assessed after two years, comparing our tuition to the tuition of other college insitituions in Maryland. A decision regarding the continution of the freeze will be made at that time.

 

Sexpert: Final Tips for the Semester

Dear Miss Meghan,

Any tips for getting through the end of the semester stress?

-Finally

Dear Finally,

I think the biggest mistake I see students make is not taking care of themselves. Understandably, when we are stressed out and busy the first things to get cut are eating well, exercise, and sleep. Yet those are the exact things that well help us reduce our stress levels. If you take breaks to get a complete meal, go for a run, and aim for 9 hours of sleep, then that huge paper you need to do will take much less time to write because you will have better focus, will be able to think more clearly, and can improve your comprehension of information.

So you say you don’t have 10 hours to spare for sleep, exercise, and food. Fair enough. If you really can’t make the time to do those things, how about you take ten minutes to read a book for pleasure, or journal, or go for a walk. Take a 20 minute nap (not an hour nap) before your big test (sleeping helps your brain retain information). Eat a (healthier) snack, but do it mindfully. Mindful eating is only concentrating on the tastes, textures, smells, and colors of the food. Eat slowly with the laptop shut and the tv and phone off. Bananas are great brain food. Go to calm.com and do a 5 minute guided relaxation.

Self-care in NOT going on facebook or buzzfeed or cracked or reddit or pintrest or twitter for a 20 minute break. It is not listening to your friends complain about how much work they have to do, or taking a break to write aemail. Self-care is not eating Cheetos while watching Toddlers in Tiaras. Or ramen while watching Parks and Recs. Or Snickers while watching 90210. Or, well you get the point. Know the difference between distracting yourself and taking care of yourself.

I wish you all the best of luck on your SMPs, final papers and tests, graduation, jonb searches, summer plans, grad school, or whatever you will be doing for the summer.  Wear sunscreen.

 

Sincerely,

Miss Meghan

Gaypril and Lavender Graduation Honor LGBTQ Students

This month, LGBTQ  Student Services and STARS (St. Mary’s Triangle and Rainbow Society) sponsored Gaypril, a series of events dedicated to the celebration of SMCM’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. 

Gaypril began with the all day event, Out on the Patio, which showcased fun activities and free merchandise. Sophomore Erica Burns, who tabled during the celebration, was thrilled with the excitement and participation regarding the event. “There was a lot of enthusiasm and pretty big in-your-face excitement!”  Students were allowed to paint phrases in relation to the LGBTQ community on the SMCM pride flag, which was held up with honor during the Pride Parade. Sponsored by STARS, the annual Gaypril Pride Parade began at Dorchester Circle and continued around campus as the LGBTQ community and supporters marched and waved to onlookers. 

Gaypril continued with a screening of the film Ma Vie En Rose in Cole Cinema. The film depicted the struggles of a transgendered girl and the difficulties of her acceptance. The message presented in the film was one that many LGBTQ students could relate to. 

The first-ever SMCM Lavender Graduation, an event held at colleges all over the nation to recognize the achievements of seniors in the LGBTQ community, took place on Friday, April 19 in Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC). Fifteen graduating seniors who were heavily involved in the College’s LGBTQ community, whether it be through as campaigning for marriage equality with STARS or simply being supportive of their LGBTQ friends.

Dean of Students Roberto Ifill, who spoke to the graduates along with Director of the Library and STARS advisor Celia Rabinowitz, said “You have taught us so many things about courage and freedom, about open-hearted friendship without judging, about bringing color and flavor to everything you do. You’ve been models of compassion and support of activism against injustice, whether this injustice has been fueled by intolerance or indifference. Best of all, you’ve taught us by your example that close family ties should embrace rather than exclude.”

Rakeena Banks, one of the seniors honored at the ceremony, saw Lavender Graduation as a sign of St. Mary’s inclusive atmosphere. “It’s great to actually see it happen,” she said. “It’s a good change, and it just shows that the St. Mary’s community is currently progressing and will always continue to progress so long as they have the students that are always willing to fight for this progress.”

One of the biggest turnouts of the Gaypril events was the drag show where two celebrity drag queens, Epiphany B. Lee and Chanel Devereaux, and members of the SMCM community graced the stage. This second annual drag show, held in the upper deck, allowed St. Mary’s students to cheer and support their peers . “It was amazing, all of the performers outdid themselves,” said senior and STARS  member Michelle Steahl. 

Many students commented on the importance of St. Mary’s including Gaypril events on campus. “It’s good to have a month on campus that commemorates the fact that there are still issues of discrimination towards the LGBTQ community. It’s pretty significant,” said Burns.  Through the performances, Gaypril provided a way for students to open up a discussion about what it means to be a part of the LGBTQ community. “This is about feeling like I belong here with all of these awesome peoples,” said Steahl. While Gaypril is only a one month celebration, LGBTQ Student Services and STARS dedicate themselves to sponsoring more events focused on honoring SMCM’s LGBTQ students.  

An Update on the Space Age

At the time of writing, the Orbital Sciences Corporation is planning to launch a large, two-stage rocket called Antares. The launch is a trial meant to test the spaceworthiness of the rocket and make sure it is capable of safely releasing a small cargo vessel into orbit. If successful, this launch will effectively green-light the use of the Antares delivery system for resupply missions to the International Space Station. The first time that such a mission docks with the station will also make the Orbital Sciences Corporation the second commercial spaceflight provider, joining the California-based SpaceX.

While the world fixates on nuclear weapons and terrorism, the space age has quietly arrived on our doorstep. I don’t know how to adequately state the significance of the work being done by the commercial space industry. NASA and its foreign counterparts have done incredible work over the past 60 years, developing technologies and expanding our understanding the universe, but they have done so in pursuit of knowledge. Private companies pursue profit. For now, those profits take the form of government contracts and assignments; this will not always be the case. These companies are becoming experts in technologies that allow humans to travel to other worlds.

The natural bounty of the solar system outstrips Earth by powers of a hundred. Titan, a moon in orbit around Saturn, has lakes and rivers made of liquid hydrocarbons. Portions of Mercury’s surface are covered in pure titanium. Numerous moons and and asteroids possess entire oceans worth of frozen water. The prosperity that could be achieved through exploitation of these resources is extraordinary and makes most of our current resource conflicts and dilemmas seem depressingly petty.

So, what obstacles still stand between corporate America and the wealth of the solar system? Well, our inability to shield space craft against solar radiation means that any astronauts who spend more than a few weeks in space are very likely to develop severe cancer. A plethora of private and public institutions are presently toiling to develop a solution to this problem. Successful or not, many of these efforts may prove unnecessary as non-living astronauts become more independent and capable. Machines don’t need food, don’t sleep, don’t crack under stress, don’t get sick, and don’t have families who care about their safety. Their only limitation at present is the communication delay caused by the huge distances associated with space travel. Our robots need to get a little more independent before stockholders will start trusting them with multibillion dollar enterprises.

For now, the space industry putters along. New technologies are being developed and companies are building specialized business models to facilitate their future growth. Unfortunately, the wealth of the solar system remains out of reach. Exploration, research, and development remain the primary focuses of the commercial space industry. As a result, the companies I’ve described are looked upon as novelties in the economy; investment opportunities that seem reserved for the excessively optimistic and the government. The turning point will occur once a company takes something valuable from beyond Earth, brings it back, sells it, and makes a profit from doing so.

In economics, industries can be grouped by their “cost to entry.” This refers to the money and effort that must be invested in a new company before profits are possible. For example, the lumber industry has a fairly low cost to entry, just start cutting trees down and you’re more or less in business. In contrast, the telecommunication industry has huge entry costs as billions of dollars’ worth of towers, cables, and personnel must be procured before a company can even begin selling its product. Space travel is the most expensive enterprise ever undertaken. By the time the industry becomes profitable the companies leading the charge will be supercharged versions of AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast; virtually unassailable due to the immense cost of trying to catch up with them.

Space travel has always been regarded as expensive and experimental science. The idea of such science playing a large role in day to day life has long been the stuff of fiction and fantasy. I think this is likely to change. It probably won’t be in the next five years, or perhaps even in the next fifty; but, sometime in the next century, I predict that we are going to see dramatic growth in the space industry. This growth will not come about through some spectacular means. As with most great developments in history, our move into space will be the result of common economics and humanity’s natural drive to expand. The significant thing to keep in mind is that the people and organizations who lead space revolution, like those who led the industrial, computer, and now internet revolutions, will likely find themselves at the top of the world for a very long time.

Do you have a political, economic or public policy question that you’d like answered? Email your question to japosoap@gmail.com and it might be featured with a response in a future issue of The Point News.

 

 

 

News-in-Brief: College Renews Contract with Bon App

On April 12 in an All-Student email, Contracting Officer and Director of Auxiliary Operations Patrick Hunt announced that the College would be awarding Bon Appetit Management Co. (Bon Appetit) a follow-on contract. The current contract for food services operations expires on June 30, 2013 and the new contract will be for a base period of two years with five one year option periods.

The decision was made in accordance with College procurement requirements by an evaluation panel made up of “a broad mix of administrative personnel and students” who “conducted a thorough review and evaluation of the four  proposals that were received,” according to Hunt in the email. The process included a site visit to Pennsylvania with members of the evaluation panel and an additional student representative to evaluate one of the competitor operations. Based on the evaluations, the panel made the unanimous decision to offer Bon Appetit a contract again.

With the contract acquisition, Bon Appetit will be “adding to the variety of weekly and monthly promotions and events that it has conducted in the past” and introduce the new board plans, including the extended hours of operations in the Great Room and the Pub starting in the fall. In closing, Hunt said, “We look forward to Bon Appetit’s continued effort in providing a wide variety of quality cuisines and significant number of choices they provide with each and every meal.”

Administration Clarifies Concerns About Public Safety

Over the past few weeks, there has been much buzz and confusion throughout campus about the newly hired Public Safety Director, Sean Tallarico, and his plans for Public Safety (PS) as he assumes his new role.

Tallarico spoke at the March 26 Student Government Association (SGA) meeting, in which questions were raised by student leaders regarding the future of PS’s presence and role on campus. The major concerns included whether officers would be carrying guns, how the student conduct system would be changed, and Tallarico’s overall approach to St. Mary’s, him being new to the College and the area.

These queries came to light after an article was published by TheBaynet.com covering the St. Mary’s County Sheriff Office meeting held on the St. Mary’s campus on March 21. Tallarico was in attendance, and was interviewed by TheBaynet.com about his plans as the new PS Director. In the article, Tallarico mentioned that he wanted “to move his force towards having full police powers,” after noting that he himself had full police powers and carried a gun at his previous job at Moravian College in Pennsylvania.

This brought concerns to the campus community due to the College’s reputation of a generally safe place.

When asked about the article in the SGA meeting, Tallarico claimed that his comments were taken out of context. Dean of Students Bert Ifill also noted that Tallarico was “entirely misquoted,” according to President Joe Urgo.

During the 40-minute question and answer period in the SGA meeting, the direct question of whether or not PS officers would be carrying guns in the near future was asked several times, however, no direct yes or no answer was offered from Tallarico.

Ifill responded to the article’s claims by stating that Tallarico was being asked about a specific hypothetical situation — if there were to be a shooter loose on campus — and not his thoughts on PS officers carrying guns. The article posed Tallarico saying that in the event of a shooter on campus, he would “tell his men [and women] to get as far away from that as possible, because it would be a situation of an armed person against an unarmed police force.” The article then claimed, “Tallarico did say, however, that he is licensed to carry a gun and as a sworn officer, it would be hard for him to walk away from the situation.” “The situation” the article is referring to, according to Ifill, is him intervening if a shooter was on campus and he was unarmed due to his responsibility of keeping the campus safe, not carrying a gun.

Dick Myers, TheBaynet.com reporter and author of the article, however, simply stated, “I stand by the article,” when asked about the misquoting claims of Ifill and Tallarico.

Ifill put skepticisms to rest, however, by mentioning that he and Tallarico have had specific conversations about the topic of PS officers carrying guns. “From our own [the College community’s] set of values, it’s not workable,” he claimed. Urgo also confirmed that “there are absolutely no plans to do that.”

Other concerns raised by student leaders include Tallarico’s inclusion of the students in making such decisions about PS’s roles on campus, and Tallarico’s knowledge of the St. Mary’s Way and campus culture. Tallarico said that getting to know the campus and students is very important to him. Ifill noted that his interest in the community is one of the reasons he was being considered for the job.

Still, after the March 26 SGA meeting in which Tallarico spoke, concerns among students in regards to PS’s future role on campus remained.

So on April 2, Ifill came to speak at the SGA meeting to clear up any lingering questions about Tallarico’s plans, and attempted to put rumors to rest.

In the meeting, Ifill opened by stating three main principles that both the administration and Tallarico would like PS to soon embody. Those three principles are: 1) giving PS more positive visibility on campus, 2) keeping the student conduct system as educational and not a crime and punishment system, and 3) to give PS officers more training so they can do their jobs at the highest caliber possible.

Though Ifill outlined these main three goals, he said, “The major principle, though, is that they are here to keep us and our campus safe. It’s not about dividing the community into perps and victims. I want the officers to be part of the community, too.”

When commenting on the second principle, which addresses PS’s role in the student conduct system, Ifill stressed that the St. Mary’s system is very unique among college campuses, and becoming ever rarer as time progresses. “The point of our system is to impose community standards on our community. It’s an accountability system imposed by students.” Ifill also mentioned the importance of the educational aspect of the system.

While concerns were raised in the SGA meeting Tallarico attended over how severely PS’s role in the conduct system will be changed, Tallarico mentioned that any changes made will be aimed at improving PS officers’ performances when handling cases. A sting of discontent was felt throughout the room, though, when Tallarico stated that he would like outcomes of student conduct hearings to be reported to PS. Right now, PS does not receive those outcomes, so officers involved in hearings do not know how a given case is resolved. Reasonings for that stem from the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which states that the students’ conduct records are protected from parents or other certain outside parties unless permitted by the student. If PS obtains outcomes of hearings, the student is then not protected under the act.

Both Ifill and Urgo noted that the administration and Tallarico are planning to review the judicial process as a whole along with Student Conduct Officer Kelly Smolinsky. According to Ifill, Smolinsky is currently researching a “restorative justice” system, which would give justice to both the affected victims and offenders in a given case without breaching confidentiality.

As far as giving PS officers “full police powers,” a term in which had not been clearly defined, Ifill mentioned that simply “any police powers has to be negotiated with the campus community. There are a number of abilities that PS officers have already that we use with discretion,” he said. Those powers include the ability to issue search warrants, stop cars on campus, etc.

Ifill’s main concerns with the extended training, however, are specifically geared to handling bigger incidents on campus, such as sexual assault. “The skills I’d like PS officers to have is to be better acquainted with the laws of the state, better able to diffuse situations, and having good judgment to be able to recognize where there may be risk,” he said. “I want PS to be an ally in the Green Dot Program, also in helping teach the community how to interject in hazardous situations correctly.” Ifill also said that part of the training will include knowing who to go to for bigger cases within the St. Mary’s Sheriff Department and other law enforcement agencies as necessary.

While the extra training will certainly cost the College money, Ifill was not sure of the exact expense. According to him, Tallarico would need to present a proposal for the training to Ifill and then the budget would be sorted out from there. Ifill also noted that the training would not be for all of the officers.

From here on out, Ifill said that plans include getting Tallarico more involved and visible in the campus community. One of the first steps Tallarico intends to take is reinstating the Public Safety Advisory Committee, which was started under former Director Dave Zylak.

Tallarico expressed his intent to bring back the advisory committee, which is currently being rebuilt with Student Trustee senior Alex Walls, junior William Sokolove, and junior Jenny Housley. Meetings have been taking place last week and this week to determine the role the committee will play and its members, according to Tallarico.

“It is my belief that where PS is concerned, any dialog that fosters a better understanding of safety and security on campus promotes safer students in a safer environment. I believe students want a place they can share their concerns and a good PS Department needs to establish the ability to have ongoing communication so that the campus community understands what the role of PS is and why it does what it does.

“PS should not only be seen as the department that shows up when something bad happens or is only around to be the enforcers of rules and regulations,” Tallarico said. “Its primary role is within and must be part of, the education framework.”

Senior Athlete Spotlight: Katie Phipps

After spending four years at St. Mary’s, senior and cross country athlete Katie Phipps shared her bittersweet feelings about leaving college. “I definitely have mixed feelings, and a lot of sadness now that the season is over. But I had a really great experience doing cross-country, and it was probably one of the best decisions I made coming into college.”

Katie’s first year at St. Mary’s, 2009, was the first year the cross country teams became varsity teams. Katie explained that being part of such a new team probably made her athletic experience different from most, and said, “the athletics department has been really supportive of the new program…we literally built the program. Before I came to St. Mary’s there was no cross country team, so we were the first team. I’m happy with what it’s become, and I have really good feelings for the future, but I’m also happy my time is up.”

Creating a team is not necessarily an easy venture. And the cross country team saw some coaching changes. Coach Tom Fisher, who helped start the program, officially became the coach again in February of this year.

In response to the coaching changes, Phipps said, “We had a coaching change last year. She was the coach for two years…that was also really difficult. I loved Coach [Lynnette] O’Dell, I thought she was a great coach, but it’s a lot harder building a program than I thought it was. I think the athletic department here did a great job supporting our team, and I really felt that appreciation.” She also said, “The coaching change obviously lead to a lot of difficulties in the team and the team cohesiveness between the men and women’s teams, but hopefully thats getting resolved.”

She explained that after eight years of a sport, it sometimes feels exhausting, but that she is excited to move on to new things. This future might even involve coaching. “I’d like to coach in the future and help other people to run,” Phipps said. “That’s one of my dreams and I feel like St. Mary’s athletics prepared me for that. But I’m happy I won’t have to compete anymore at a level where I’m being judged by coaches.”

Outside of cross country, Phipps also worked for Nairem Moran, the Sports Information Director. She loved the experience, and said that it gave her a new appreciation of sports. She said, “I basically have gone to every kind of sporting event that we offer here. It’s really opened my eyes to all the groups and teams we have here, and all the hard work that different athletes put in no matter what sport they’re in. It’s made me a lot more appreciative of athletes in general. Everyone puts in all this effort, and you can really see it when you go to all the events. My dad was shocked when he found out I was working for Nairem because I’m not a big sports person at all, but now I definitely see the dedication that all the teams put in, and it’s made me a better person.”

Although she switched her major a couple of times, Phipps decided to be a psychology and history double major. Although she said she would not consider herself very active in terms of other extracurricular activities, Phipps did a semester of crew, a semester of dance club, studied abroad in Australia, and even did a radio show her freshman year. She considered cross country to be her biggest commitment outside of school, and said, “I kind of just took cross country and ran with it, literally.”

In the future she wants to get a masters degree in school psychology or youth development. She added, “I’m also interested in going to the Peace Corps and working with youth and community development in a place that could use help.” When asked where she would want to go she responded, “Honestly, I’ve thought about it, and there is nowhere I don’t want to go. Ideally I would go to Central America or South East Asia, but I know the majority of people go to Africa, and that would still be an amazing experience.”

This summer Phipps will work at Camp Greentop, a camp she has worked at before for adults and children with mental disabilities. She said, “This is something I really love doing.”

As to leaving St. Mary’s, Phipps said, “I will miss my professors, I will miss my classes, I will miss this environment. St. Mary’s has shaped who I am, it’s part of who I am, and obviously I’ll take that with me anywhere I go. Relating to cross-country, the team means so much to me. I will miss them so much. I will definitely cherish these years.”

John Hodgman Talks 'Cats, 'Downton Abbey' at Twain Lecture

By Michael Abrams

On Saturday evening, best-selling author and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart correspondent John Hodgman graced the ARC Arena with his brand of irreverent humor in the 7th annual Mark Twain Lecture Series on American Humor & Culture. After an opening by local blue-grass revival band The Rusty Spurs, Hodgman worked through a 40-minute stand up set, followed by a tableside discussion with Chair of the English Department and Twain Lecture Series Director, Ben Click.

The crowd of students, faculty, and local residents started trickling in an hour before the event started. The three-part group, The Rusty Spurs, provided opening entertainment while the audience eventually grew to fill an entire set of bleachers and additional floor seating. Hodgman took his place on stage while the band was still playing, and started the night off with a surprise when he and Professor Click sang a number with the group.

As the band cleared the stage, Professor Click came out to introduce the lecturer. Click thanked the SGA and Programs Board for helping to organize the event, as well as President Urgo and other faculty for “moral support as well as money.” He went on to tease Hodgman throughout his intro, joking that at Yale Hodgman received a degree in “Literature and Dungeons and Dragons.” By the end of his words, Click put jokes aside and welcomed to the stage “a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and a very very funny man.”

Hodgman transitioned into a stand up set covering the gamut of his life experiences. Starting with youth as an only child (what Hodgman calls the “Smarty-pants Narcissist Club”), Hodgman eventually worked through his opinion on popular sports (“Soccer is just one ball away from the Ancient Mayan sport called ‘Running Back-and-Forth’”), parenting, and the popular British television show Downton Abbey.

Though he secured laughs consistently throughout his time on stage, Hodgman’s humor tended to be on the absurdist and unexpected side. He told the crowd he earned a claim to fame writing “fake trivia” books, which included little known facts such as that “FDR had a hook for a hand but we never knew about it because it was shaped like a wheelchair.” Later on, he bemoaned the difficulty of balancing his kids’ privacy with his desire to use their stories for laughs. His solution, he told the audience, was to simply refer to his cats instead of his kids. “One night I was watching Downton Abbey with my cats,” Hodgman told the audience, “when my younger cat asked what Mary Crawley was so upset about, my older cat said, ‘Shut up, I’m trying to watch Downton Abbey.’”

Following his lecture, Hodgman was joined on stage once again by Professor Click, who sat with him for a quasi-interview portion of the evening. Click started off by stumping Hodgman on a few “Southern Maryland Trivia” questions (Hodgman, for example, was not familiar with stuffed ham). Getting more serious, however, the gentlemen went on to discuss which modern humorists are fulfilling Mark Twain’s legacy and the details of Hodgman’s creative writing process.

The night was concluded as Click honored the winners of his Mark Twain inspired art and writing contests.  First-year Breanna Thorne (first prize), junior Shannon Rafferty (second prize), and ’98 alumnus Andrew Kolody (third prize) were honored for their artistic depictions of Twain, while senior Marissa Muldoon (first prize), sophomore Chris Joyce (second prize), and junior Ben Israel (third prize) were recognized for their humorous writings inspired by Twain’s style. All students received an award and a handshake from Hodgman in a fitting ode to Twain’s influence to end the evening of humor.

Food Review: Coffee Quarter

On Tuesday, April 16, I had the pleasure to visit The Coffee Quarter Roastery in California, MD, for a late lunch. Coffee Quarter, a versatile coffee shop that specializes in its home roasted coffee as well as its deli sandwiches, homemade desserts, and assorted goodies, is a hidden gem of St. Mary’s County. Nestled in between Monterey’s and Bollywood Masala, Coffee Quarter is a warm and welcoming full-service coffee shop that provides an excellent meeting place, or a study hotspot. The lighting in Coffee Quarter is dim but sufficient, coupled with rich mahogany floors that keep the fresh aroma of newly roasted coffee beans tightly swathed in the building.

Upon entering Coffee Quarter, I was greeted by the friendly “hellos” of two young ladies working behind the counter, an incredibly large stainless steel coffee grinder near the entrance, and the warmth of my mother’s kitchen. After reviewing the menu and deciding what I fancied, I ordered the turkey bacon cheese melt, a specialty according to a local who was eating at a table close to the door.

After ordering I went and took a seat at one of the many solid wooden chairs; I passed on the comfy leather couches and armchairs in the back of the restaurant because I was worried that the sweet smell of fresh cocoa, espresso and melting cheese would overpower me and send me into a much-needed siesta. Four minutes later my sandwich, as well as a medium hot chocolate and a medium strawberry smoothie (coffee is not a favorite of mine) were brought to the counter and I promptly retrieved them. The sandwich was to die for: the bacon was crisp, the turkey was warm and the bread was toasted and allowed the cheese to melt down the sides of the sandwich. Even the hot chocolate and fresh smoothie were utterly marvelous. The only caution I would give is that my meal, with tax, cost $15.54, not cheap but certainly worth it when you look at the portions and the relief my taste buds felt from eating another trite lunch on campus.

Aside from the food’s decadence the atmosphere was enticing in its own right. With chintz armchairs, and a sprawling leather couch, the back of the restaurant looked more like an evening lounge than a coffee shop. Interestingly enough, Coffee Quarter does serve beer and wine at night and has their own happy hour.

With free WiFi, large amounts of caffeine, and homemade desserts, Coffee Quarter makes for an excellent work location as well as a meeting place for job interviews or even an off-campus study spot for someone sick of the monotony of exam preparations.

But if somehow the luring homemade sandwiches do not sell Coffee Quarter’s prowess to you, how about a good cause? Coffee Quarter donates 5% of their revenue to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, helping eligible servicemen and women with financial needs post-duty. The clean, friendly tavern with a Panera-esque atmosphere earned an easy 4 out of 5 stars, leaving me looking for another excuse to head to Coffee Quarter and try a dessert or two.